Australia looking to boost defence cooperation with India: Andrews

Describing India as an emerging superpower, Australian Defence Minister Kevin Andrews said he will explore a range of new ideas to set the direction of bilateral defence cooperation during his visit to the country.

PTI| Updated: Sep 01, 2015, 14:52 PM IST

Melbourne: Describing India as an emerging superpower, Australian Defence Minister Kevin Andrews said he will explore a range of new ideas to set the direction of bilateral defence cooperation during his visit to the country.

"India is the emerging democratic super power of Asia. It is therefore sensible that the relationship between India and Australia be developed and strengthened," he said.

"I will visit India to advance Australia-India defence cooperation. As part of this visit I will meet with my counterpart (Manohar) Parrikar. I will also call on Prime Minister (Narendra Modi)," Andrews said ahead of his three-day visit to India starting September 1.

Andrews said that the visit which was his first as the Defence Minister, was a part of building on the personal relationship with India as set by the two leaders Modi and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott last year.

"Our shared history, coupled with our shared democratic values and a strong interest in a secure Indo-Pacific region, provides us with a firm foundation upon which we can confidently pursue future engagement activities in support of our joint interests.

"I look forward to identifying a range of new ideas to increase our existing defence cooperation at this year's talks," he said.

As the first Defence Ministers' Meeting following the release of the Framework for Security Cooperation by Abbott and Modi during the Indian leader's State Visit to?Australia, this year's talks will be particularly important, Andrews said.

"This dialogue provides an opportunity for Parrikar and I to set the direction of our bilateral defence engagement in line with the expectations of the Framework," he said.

"Our inaugural bilateral maritime exercise with the Indian Navy, AUSINDEX, is scheduled to occur later this month and will include participation by various naval and air force platforms. It is a strong signal of both countries? commitment to building defence relations."

"I will also address one of India's preeminent think tanks, the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, on our relationship with India and?Australia's defence policies more broadly," he said.

Quoting Abbott that 'it was the time to turn the warm friendship, the long history of the two nations into something meaningful', Andrew said, "This is our challenge and it is our task".